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'RETRO PIES' Enjoy a slice of history

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

There are no shortcuts in creating traditional pies, an author says.
Pick pie for dessert, and you're choosing not only a tasty treat but a slice of history.
Often thought of as the all-American dessert, pie has become synonymous with family gatherings and tradition.
"We all associate holidays with pumpkin pie and pecan pie and apple pies," said Linda Everett, author of the cookbook "Retro Pies," (Collectors Press, Inc).

Everett, who chronicles the history of pie in the book, writes that pioneer women even once postponed a holiday feast because they had not received molasses for their pies.
According to The American Pie Council, 75 percent of pies baked commercially are sold in the last four months of the year. But pie is an appropriate dessert to serve all year long, and summer is also becoming a popular pie season, said Linda Hoskins, executive director of The American Pie Council, a group of pie lovers and producers who work to raise awareness, enjoyment and consumption of the dessert.
Pie companies are teaming up with candy bar and cookie manufacturers such as Oreo and Reese's to create pies that will appeal to the younger generation, she said.
However, Everett's book is a look at pies made the old-fashioned way with rolling pins and fresh fruit. She offers four hand-made pie crust recipes and gives tips on how to create the perfect pastry. These pies require several steps, and there are no shortcuts in creating the tasty authentic retro pies.
Local specialties
Everett used many recipes from her family's collection and gathered others from throughout the country. From the South, there's the S.C. Sweet Potato Pie, Savannah Anna's Pumpkin Pie and Meriweather County (Ga.) Glazed Peach Pie.
From her home state of Washington, Everett chose the Peninsula Surprise Pie made with cranberries, pineapple, apples and spices.
"It's my own personal family recipe that I like. It started out from somewhere else and we adjusted it," she said. "It's a beautiful pie with a lot of color to it and wonderful flavors."
Different pies are popular in various regions of the country depending on the fruits available. Cranberries, apples and cherries -- grown in Washington -- are particular favorites in desserts there, she said.
Abundance of various fruits sparked the popularity of pies in the Colonial era, according to Hoskins. Settlers from England were used to filling pies with meats but started using fruit once they discovered the bountiful supply in the colonies.
"Then, since fruit pie was so different than pie in England, it became kind of an American icon," she said.
"A lot of people just think of pies as dessert, but they are not," Everett said. "Like a lot of different things, they kind of developed. They are time proven. I think that's one of the things about our pie recipes, they all have a history."
1 cup raw cranberries, washed and sorted (frozen are acceptable)
51/2 cups apples, peeled, cored, sliced (Everett recommends McIntosh, Fuji, Pink Lady or Braeburn)
1/4 cup canned, crushed pineapple in its own syrup, drained
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In medium bowl or food processor, mix together flour and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and mix into floerolling out.
In food processor or grinder, combine cranberries, 1/2 cup apple slices, pineapple, brown sugar, white sugar, orange peel, cinnamon and nutmeg. Process until well-chopped but not mushy.
Spread half of the mixture on bottom of pie crust. Arrange remaining apple slices over this and cover with remaining cranberry mixture.
Top with remaining crust, sealing edges well and cutting steam vents. Bake for 15 minutes, then regrees and bake or an additional 35 to 40 minutes. You might have to cover crust edge with aluminium foil to prevent burning. Serves 6 to 8.
3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, washed
2 quarts water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 teaspoon brandy extract
3 tablespoons sugar
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
For crust, in a medium bowl or food processor, mix together flour and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and mix into flour. Add water. Chill dough before rolling out. Makes a single crust. Place potatoes in a 3-quart saucepan with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cover pan and cook until potatoes are tender. Drain, skin and press through a sieve or food processor. Cool a little. In a large bowl, beat together butter, egg yolks, honey, salt and nutmeg until mixture is creamy. Add in baking soda, milk, orange rind and extract. Fold in potatoes.
Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell and bake 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 300 and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes. Pie should be set. Remove from oven. While pie is baking, beat egg whites with 3 tablespoons sugartil stiff. Spread evenly over baked pie, making sure meringue seals edges all around.
Return to oven for 20 minutes to lightly brown. Remove and cool. Let cool 2 to 3 hours before cutting. Serves 5 to 6.
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup water
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
4 egg whites
3 tablespoons sugar
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
For crust, mix together flour and salt in a medium bowl or food processor. Cut butter into small pieces and mix into flour. Add water. Chill dough before rolling out.
To make filling, in a medium bowl, combine corn starch and salt. Add in lemon rind, juice and water. Beat in egg yolks one at a time, leaving the whole egg until last. Blend in melted butter.
Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until bubbly and somewhat thick. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
To make meringue, beat egg whites until frothy. Beat in sugar, a little at a time, until whites form soft peaks. Spread over pie, making sure to seal edges. Bake 2 to 3 minutes until meringue is lightly touched to brown. Cool to room temperature before cutting. Serves 6 to 8.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter-flavored shortening, chilled
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 egg, beaten
2 eggs, beaten
1 (16-ounce) can pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
Pecan crumble topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
For crust, chill all ingredients, including the flour and vinegar. Combine the flour, salt and sugar.
Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles cornmeal. In another bowl, mix water and vinegar with the beaten egg. Add the liquid mixture, one tablespoon at a time, to the flour mixture, tossing with a fork to form a soft dough.
Shape into three discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator at least three hours, before attempting to roll out. (Overnight works best). Hold no more than three days in refrigerator. For longer storage, place in a freezer bag and freeze. Use one disc for a single crust pie from oven and sprinkle topping over filling. Return pie to oven and bake 25 minutes more or until center is set.
XFirst three recipes from "Retro Pies," by Linda Everett. Last one from the American Pie Council, by Marles Riessland of Riverdale, Neb., first place winner in the 2003 National Pie Championships-Amateur Pumpkin category.